This is to allow key workers to get to work and people to get essential food and medicine during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The six-month exemptions are granted automatically: motorists do not need to do anything.
Current MOTs will be extended by six months from their original expiry date. So, if your MOT was due on 3 April 2020, it is automatically extended to 3 October 2020.
If your three-year-old vehicle’s first MOT is due, you will be automatically given a six-month MOT extension from the due-date.
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This also means car insurance WILL remain valid: motorists are required to have a current MOT as part of car insurance rules (Section 47 of the Road Traffic Act 1988).
The new legislation applies in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland has separate arrangements.
How does the MOT extension work?
MOT expiry dates are automatically extended by six months, stresses the government: owners don’t need to do anything. It is actioned about a week before the original date is due to expire.
A new paper MOT certificate will NOT be issued, to save on paperwork.
However, the online MOT record WILL show the revised date, so the police will be able to tell you have a current MOT.
Online check MOT status tools will also use the new, extended date.
You’ll still be able to tax your vehicle, adds the government – however, if both your MOT and tax run out in the same month, you may have to wait until later in the month before taxing it.
What if my MOT was due on or before Sunday 29 March?
MOTs due before 30 March 2020 have not been exempted. Motorists will still need to get an MOT and can still be prosecuted for driving without one.
If a vehicle’s tax has run out, a valid MOT is required before it can be renewed.
Garages and MOT test centres remain open as they are considered an essential service to keep cars safe.
A new tool allows you to search by postcode to find open centres nearest to you.
The garage will not give you a paper copy of the MOT certificate though, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Owners can download a copy online after the test.
If you cannot get to an MOT test station, government advice is to register your car as off the road – this is known as SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification).
Reasons to register it as SORN include not being able to visit a test station because you’re self-isolating.
You must not take your vehicle for its MOT If either you or someone you live with have coronavirus symptoms.
The Department for Transport also instructs those extremely vulnerable from coronavirus to not take their car for its MOT.
DfT is working with insurers and the police to make sure you are not unfairly penalised for not being able to get an MOT while you’re being shielded.
Can I still be prosecuted for not having an MOT?
Motorists are responsible for making sure their car is always safe to drive, or ‘roadworthy’.
Even cars with an MOT can be unsafe and classed as unroadworthy.
Motorists are told they ‘must still keep your car in a roadworthy condition and garages will remain open for repairs’.
You can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.
How long will the new legislation last?
The legislation granting a six-month MOT exemption came into immediate effect on 30 March 2020 for 12 months.
This means that even if your MOT is not due for another six months, on 30 September 2020, it will still be extended by six months to 30 March 2021.
The transport secretary is expected to give further guidance about how the new legislation will gradually evolve.
What about MOTs for lorries, buses and coaches?
MOTs for lorries, buses and coaches were earlier suspended for up to three months from 21 March 2020.
Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and public service vehicles (PSVs) will be issued with a three-month certificate of temporary exemption (CTE) until further notice.
New advice has now been published on what operators need to do to exempt their vehicle.
The government reminds operators to keep their vehicles maintained, in a safe-to-drive and roadworthy condition.
They should also still be operated within the terms of the operators’ licence conditions.
What did transport secretary Grant Shapps say?
“We must ensure those on the frontline of helping the nation combat COVID-19 are able to do so,” said transport secretary Grant Shapps when making the MOT exemption announcement.
“Allowing this temporary exemption from vehicle testing will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people to get essential food and medicine.
“Safety is key, which is why garages will remain open for essential repair work.”